We all hunt for advice on a daily basis. Constantly asking friends, peers, family, and even strangers what they think we should do about this, that, or the other. Our hope is that they might just enlighten us – possibly with some fantastic motto that will change our perspective and attitude for the better. But lets be honest, that rarely ever happens.
Instead we are given safe advice. Told to never strive too far off the beaten path. That it’s important to be careful and not take many chances until you’re ready (as if we’re ever ready). On too many occasions has the road most traveled been suggested to me. And I’m sure that I will hear more meaningless life advice again soon.
There’s a reason why most of us ask for life advice. There is also a reason why we get safe advice in return. The reason we ask is escapism. It’s frightening to make your own decisions, choose your own path, and commit to your own judgment. And the reason we’re given safe advice is odds. The person advising you undeniably wants to be right, and when you tell someone to play it safe…there is really no way to loose.
If you weren’t to listen to them, take a chance, and fail, their response would be “told you so”. And if you did listen, of course you’ll be O.K. Nothing was ever at stake in the first place. And plus, everyone else is playing it safe – so no matter what happens to you, they can always feel as though they were right.
My father always tells me, “If you don’t bet you can’t win”. And the majority of advice we are giving in life – especially as young adults – is essentially telling us not to bet – not to take chances. Because God forbid if someone told you to place the bet and you lost. Whose fault would it be then? Yours – but not in their eyes.
Knowing whom to ignore in life is equally important as knowing whom to listen to. Opinions are like ass-holes, we all have one. While it’s valuable to expose yourself to as many perspectives on life as possible, only do it if you can recognize and filter out all the junk that is harmful to you. And believe it or not, safe advice can harm you.
In my eyes, harmful advice is when mediocrity is encouraged – the advice that says to be “realistic”. That is harmful. It discourages creativity, undercuts aspirations, and encourages conformity. And that is a “safety net” I’d happily be un-aware of.
Whenever you find yourself in the presence of such a person, just leave. Don’t waste your time with them. Because there is no point in asking someone about life if the person you’re asking has never lived one them self.